Ten Year Anniversary of Recovery Stories

Ten years ago today I launched these words into the virtual ether:

‘I’d like to welcome you to Recovery Stories, a new website that is focused on helping individuals and families recover from serious problems caused by drug and alcohol use.

We’ll not just be trying to help people directly affected by drug and alcohol addiction, but also help people whose lives have been indirectly affected by the substance use problems of a loved one. Family members and friends also need to find recovery.

One important feature of this website is that it will carry the ‘voice’ of recovering people. Solutions to serious substance use problems are manifested in the lives of millions of people who are in long-term recovery. These lived solutions can provide important insights into principles and practices that underlie recovery from addiction.

Who better to teach us about recovery and how it can be achieved than the people who have taken the journey? And what better way to be inspired to find recovery than by reading, listening or watching a Recovery Story?’

The Recovery Stories website was built by web developer and close friend Ash Whitney of Wired Up Wales. Ash had originally developed my news portal Daily Dose in 2001, and later my Substance Misuse and Wired In Initiative websites. In 2018, he developed The Carrolup Story website for my colleague John Stanton and I.

As some of you know, I developed the grassroots initiative Wired In at the end of the last millennium after spending over 20 years as a neuroscientist. The primary aim of Wired In was to empower and connect people affected by substance use problems, either directly and indirectly. People with substance use problems can be empowered by providing them with hope, understanding and a sense of belonging.

Recovering people play a key role in each of these elements. Firstly, they provide hope by showing that recovery is possible via a multitude of different pathways.

Secondly, they help other people understand the nature of their problem and how it can be overcome. People in early recovery trust, are inspired by, and learn from people further along in their recovery journey.

Thirdly, recovering people support each other, allowing people in the early stages of recovery to gain a sense of belonging, and feelings of acceptance and self-worth that are key to recovery.

In order to help empower and connect recovering people, I launched the online recovery community Wired In To Recovery in 2008. Wired In To Recovery became very successful in helping people and was widely acclaimed. It attracted 4,000 community members, over 1,000 of whom blogged, creating over 7,500 blogs.

However, despite this success, we always struggled to raise funding for Wired In To Recovery and eventually, in late-2012, I made the decision to close down the community. By this time, I had moved to Perth from South Wales. Despite the great disappointment I felt in having to close down Wired In To Recovery, one advantage was that I could focus on new initiatives I had been wanting to develop for some time.

My colleagues and I had been writing Recovery Stories as part of Wired In for some time. I eventually decided to expand this past work by interviewing  some recovering people I knew well and writing their story. Other recovering friends submitted their story to me. I then decided to make these Stories part of a larger website which was committed to providing content that could help people overcome addiction and mental health problems. So began Recovery Stories.

I posted regularly on Recovery Stories for almost two years, generating over 600 blog posts and a wide range of other content. However, I had started working on a new educational initiative, called Sharing Culture, which focused on the healing of intergenerational trauma. I also started working on a related project which eventually led to The Carrolup Story website. I now found that I did not have time to post new content on Recovery Stories, although people could still access the website.

However, I really began to miss my addiction recovery advocacy work. In 2020, I therefore contacted my original storytellers and asked if we could update their  Stories, roughly seven years on. This eventually led to my eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction, which was launched on 9 April 2021. [These updated Stories are now also available in the Stories section of the website.]

I had earlier (4 March 2021) started to blog again on Recovery Stories and add a variety of new content. Over the coming months, Ash and I expect to be building a new updated version of the website.

Thank you for reading this blog post and other content on our beloved Recovery Stories. I leave you with a recent photo taken with my two sons, Sam and Ben, who were visiting Perth.